Do Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Have you noticed your dog taking a nap with its eyes open or partially open? Have you wondered why your dog is exhibiting that odd behavior and if it is something you should worry about? If you said yes, then you came to the right article. In this article, I will tell you why dogs sleep with their eyes open and when you need to worry.

Do Dogs Sleep With Their Eyes Open

Dogs Sleep with Eyes Open?

Some dog breeds actually sleep with their eyes partially open. They do this out of natural instinct likely passed down from their genetics when dogs used to live in the wild.

This would discourage predators a long time ago and make them think the dog was actually awake and alert, not sleeping.

Even though your dog is sleeping, it can still be alert to its surroundings. The eyes are linked to the brain, giving your dog enough time to react to what’s going on around them.

This isn’t the case with all dog breeds. There are just a few that actually have this condition where they sleep with their eyes partially open.

Dog Eye Structure

Have you ever fallen asleep with contacts in and woke up with the dry burning sensation? If you know what I’m talking about, then you know just how painful that feeling is. Also, if we were to fall asleep with our eyes partially open, they would feed very dry when we wake up in the morning.

The dog’s eye is very different from a human one. Dogs have an extra eyelid layer that keeps their eye protected even if they are sleeping with their eyes open. Dog’s eyes do not dry out as a humans would.

The extra eyelid is known as the nictitating membrane. When your dog has its eyes open, it will usually be tucked into the corner of the eye. It protects the eye when your dog is sleeping and gives the appearance of your dog’s eyes being open.

REM Sleep

When your dog goes into its REM sleep cycle, it makes your dog dream. When your dog is dreaming, it can have its eye partially open or even open fully. You will know that your dog is sleeping and not awake because it may be twitching or moving its leg while dreaming.

This is all 100% normal. There is a big difference between REM sleep and a severe condition such as a seizure.

Dog Bones

Medical Conditions

There are a few circumstances in which Dogs with their eyes open can be unsafe. If your dog is not sleeping and its eyes are wide open and is doing something unusual, it is likely due to a medical condition.


This is a very similar condition to the human version, where the dog will go in and out of sleep and be awake at very random and inconvenient times. Thankfully dogs are not driving or doing strenuous tasks that could put them in severe danger.

When this condition happens, your dog will fall asleep and twitch and move with eyes wide open, and it can look very similar to a seizure. If the body twitches, it won’t be continuously like a seizure; it will only be for a second, and then it should stop like a twitch when your dog is dreaming.

This is normal and should not be overly concerning. While there is no cure for narcolepsy, it isn’t something that will harm your dog.


This is another condition that both humans and dogs can get. This is a very serious condition in which the dog will have multiple seizures. These seizures will make your dog fall over uncontrollably and start to twitch and flop around. The eyes will likely be open, and the dog can feel stiff.

This is a very serious condition that will require medical attention. You will want to take your dog to see a veterinarian right away because this can be a sign of something more serious.

The difference between epilepsy and narcolepsy is that you will not be able to wake your dog or get a response from your dog during a seizure. When your dog is just narcoleptic, you can wake your dog up just by petting your dog or saying its name.

If your dog sleeps with its eyes open, it is safe unless the conditions I have just described above pertain to your dog.

Why Dogs Sleep With Eyes Open

Why Do Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Dogs do this for a variety of reasons. Some dogs sleep with their eyes open as a protective instinct that allows them to sleep but still be alert to their surroundings. This dates back for generations when dogs used to live outside, and this would deter prey.

Some dogs also sleep with their eyes open due to their natural REM sleep pattern. Just like us, dogs have dreams while they sleep, and this can cause your dog to have its eyes partially open while sleeping.

Both of these reasons are completely normal and nothing that you should worry about.


While it may be frightening to see your dog sleeping with its eyes open is completely normal unless you see your dog acting strange such as flopping on the floor or suddenly falling asleep out of nowhere. Let us know in the comments if you have ever seen your dog sleeping with its eye open.

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